Archive for the 'Automata' Category

Robot Carnival

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Robot Carnival is a Japanese Anime anthology with many elements of Clockpunk. Especially the following short (excerpted from Wikipedia is of much relevance to Clockpunk.

Presence: Directed by Yasuomi Umetsu. This segment (featuring dialogue) tells the story of a man who has an obsession with a robot girl he has been secretly constructing in an attempt to compensate for the lack of any close relationship with his wife and family. The setting seems to be British and of the early twentieth century, but also suggests another planet or a future which has attempted to re-establish a former social structure. When the robot takes on a personality of her own, far beyond what the man had programmed, he smashes her in a fit of panic, and leaves his secret laboratory for what he believes is the last time. Twenty years later, the man has a vision of his robot appearing before him, but then blowing up before he can take her hand. He returns to his shed to find the robot still sitting smashed in a corner, just as she had been left years earlier. Another twenty years elapse, and the robot appears again before the man. This time, he takes her hand and walks into the distance with her, before vanishing in front of his shocked wife.

David Roy’s Elegant Kinetic Sculptures

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The folks over at Cabinet of Wonders did a post on David C. Roy’s Kinetic Sculptures some time ago. It has been in my drafts list for quite some time now. Here is the description of David Roy’s work from the Cabinet of wonders:

Mr. Roy, who has a degree in physics and engineering, says that the artistic influence of his wife, and later, an interest in optical patterns, led him to the designs he produces today. The names of his sculptures, words such as Radiance, Illusion, Spectrum, and Harmony seem to imply a dual interest in physics and metaphysics, or at least meditation, on Mr. Roy’s part.

Interestingly, I thought these objects were small, either hand-held or head-sized; but if you look at Mr. Roy’s About the Artist page, you will see that they are actually quite large, some of them about the size of large wagon wheels.

It’s nice to see an elegant combination of craftsmanship and mechanical works; and combined, they produce a contemplative and, in some cases, satisfyingly clockpunk result.

Clockpunk indeed! Interestingly the sculptures are designed in Adobe Illustrator. A great combination of the new and the old. The moving parts create quite an interesting effect, the price tag is kind of hefty but one can easily see why. If there will be a clockpunk based mystery novella or a tv series, I am sure we will see something similar to David Roy’s sculptures.

18th-19th century Automata

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Its been a while since I last posted something, it was an extraordinary busy semester. Hopefully I will be able to post somewhat regularly at least until the new semester starts. I recently found this site about 18th-19th century Automata. Be sure to check out their recordings of music automata, recreations of 18th century music playing automatas. Here is an excerpt which captures the spirit of the age and also the spirit of clockpunk to some extent.

The genuine automatons were born in the middle of the Age of Enlightenment, thanks to the art of watchmaking. This period, which was dominated by scientific spirit, and more precisely, by the biomechanical conception of the human being, corresponds to the birth of numerous artificial creatures, which were intended to be exact replicas or copies of nature. Androids and mechanical animals were thus manufactured by watchmaking technicians who were very interested in medicine and natural sciences. They did not aim at entertaining but rather at contributing to the progress of science. In that view, they surrounded themselves with doctors and surgeons to elaborate the different artificial organs.

Here is the URL: http://www.automates-anciens.com/english_version/

Anyways Happy Holidays, Eid Mubarak, Merry Christmas, Greetings on Kwanza.

Cabaret Mechanical Theatre

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Cabaret Mechanical Theatre is a collection of (humorous) contemporary automata. The site has a bunch of interesting things e.g., they also seem to hold competition for building automatas for school kids. Many of their automatas are part of a traveling exhibition in Britain, while others are at Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum in Detroit, USA. Be sure to check out their virtual exhibition section which gives some ideas about their automatas. Coincidently these folks also have a book on making automatas titled Cabaret Mechanical Movement which can be bought from their website. And you can also buy a whole bunch of automatas from the site also.

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Keep an eye on the news section of their site for their future exhibitions.

Ayhan Aytes on Al-Jazari’s Automata

Ayhan Aytes, a student at UCSD seems to have a very interesting take on Al-Jazari’s Automata. Here is a description of his work and a talk that he will be giving at the University of Minnesota.

Ayhan Aytes’s research complicates the categorical distinctions between sacred and profane through a series of examples from al-Jazari’s book of mechanical devices. Aytes’s study addresses mainly the depiction of the concept of time in some devices as it originates from the symbolic domain but eventually contributes to a mechanical understanding of the universe, while in other automata time reveals a strange synthesis of a religious ritual with an artificial life form. Traditionally these works have been mainly presented as “Islamic automata” by history of science scholars but even this conception is problematic because of the syncretic elements of the symbolic system referred to by these machines. Ayhan Aytes is a graduate researcher in the Department of Communication at the University of California, San Diego.

Hand Crafted Woodencrafts

I came across this website not so long ago. They seem to be based in New Zealand and the woodencrafts that they have are not exactly automata since they require a person to move them but they are still pretty cool. If one were writing a Clockpunk story then one could use them as precursors to true automata. Check out their website at the following URL: http://www.allwaze.com/woodcraft-animated.htm

The Antikythera Mechanism Research Project

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Just came across the official website of the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project. It is the website of the scientists and scholars who are studying the Antikythera Mechanism. Here is a description of the project from the website.

More than a hundred years ago an extraordinary mechanism was found by sponge divers at the bottom of the sea near the island of Antikythera. It astonished the whole international community of experts on the ancient world. Was it an astrolabe? Was in an orrery or an astronomical clock? Or something else? For decades, scientific investigation failed to yield much light and relied more on imagination than the facts. However research over the last half century has begun to reveal its secrets. It dates from around the 1st century B.C. and is the most sophisticated mechanism known from the ancient world. Nothing as complex is known for the next thousand years. The Antikythera Mechanism is now understood to be dedicated to astronomical phenomena and operates as a complex mechanical “computer” which tracks the cycles of the Solar System.

Previous researchers have used the latest technologies available to them-such as x-ray analysis-to try to begin to unravel its complex mysteries. Now a new initiative is building on this previous work, using the very latest techniques available today. The Antikythera Mechanism Research Project is an international collaboration of academic researchers, supported by some of the world’s best high-technology companies, which aims to completely reassess the function and significance of the Antikythera Mechanism. Results are already very promising.

The project is under the aegis of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and is supported by a grant from the Leverhulme Trust, UK. It has received strong backing from the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, which is custodian of this unique artefact. Two of the Museum’s senior staff, Head of Chemistry, Eleni Magkou, and Archaeologist, Maria Zafeiropoulou, have co-ordinated the Museum’s side of the project and are actively involved with the research.

One UK and two Greek universities are the core of the academic research group-the astronomer Mike Edmunds and the mathematician Tony Freeth (University of Cardiff), the astronomer John Seiradakis (University of Thessalonica), the astronomer Xenophon Moussas and the physicist, Yanis Bitsakis (University of Athens). And last, but not least, the philologist and palaeographer Agamemnon Tselikas (NBG Cultural Foundation).

The URL for the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project website is as follows:

http://www.antikythera-mechanism.gr


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